What Diwali Means To Me

Selina Periampillai, Ammini Ramachandran and Awanthi Vardaraj share their Diwali traditions
Diwali Diyas
Diwali Diyas
November 04, 2018

Selina Periampillai

Selina Periampillai, chef and food writer at Taste Mauritius UK

“Returning to Mauritius, our homeland, for Diwali is a feast for the senses. But if we’re in London, I spend the day with my mum and she always makes an extra effort to decorate the house and make an array of sweet treats, like Mauritian gateau patate, a dough made out of sweet potato filled with grated coconut and sugar, fried until golden brown and caramelised.”

Ammini Ramachandran, culinary historian, USA

Ammini Ramachandran, culinary historian, USA

“Diwali is not a public holiday in the US, but celebrations in major cities often take place at great fairs with vendors, as well as food, cultural performances and fireworks. A favourite childhood memory of Deepavali growing up in Kerala in South India, is that the day began with dessert! My mother prepared a variety, but they were kept away until the morning. In the old days, farmer tenants brought us plantains, vegetables, and avil (pounded rice), and they were presented with a set of new clothes.”

Awanthi Vardaraj

Awanthi Vardaraj, writer, India

“The festival was awesome when I was growing up. On Diwali we would wake up early, shower, dress up in our new clothes and then go outdoors with my grandfather who would light fireworks. During the day, relatives and friends would arrive with gifts of sweets and savouries and leave with tins full of what we prepared. Now I frown on firecrackers for the sake of the environment, and buy the sweets readymade. I feel nostalgic for the Diwali I knew as a child.”